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A Mexican national serving time in an Ohio prison ran a massive drug trafficking ring that distributed meth, fentanyl, heroin, and more throughout the Buckeye State and beyond.
Jose Bernardo Lozano-Leon, a previously deported illegal alien, was sentenced on February 1 to more than 10 years in prison for his illicit operation after he pleaded guilty to using a smuggled cell phone to orchestrate the narcotics trade from inside the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center.
According to The News-Herald, Lozano-Leon was charged in 2019 along with nine other individuals by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio after the crew was busted for “trafficking fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, often in blue pills that were stamped to look like oxycodone. Those drugs along with cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana were shipped from Mexico to a house in Cleveland and from there sold throughout Northeast Ohio.”
Lozano-Leon, however, was inside a prison cell when the drug trade began, serving an 18-month prison sentence for illegal re-entry after he had pled guilty to entering the U.S. without permission. He conducted the operation remotely after a drone delivered a mini-cell phone to the Mexican national inside the facility. According to authorities, police were able to monitor conversations between Lozano-Leon and his posse.
One conversation centered around how “strong” the pills should be, the Herald reported:
In a conversation that was monitored by law enforcement, Lozano was allegedly asked how strong he wanted the pills to be on a scale of 1 to 10. Lozano allegedly replied that he wanted them to be an 8 or a 9, but that he didn’t want any overdoses.
Lozano-Leon will be handed over to Immigration and Customers Enforcement upon completion of his 121 month prison sentence, but if he returns to the U.S. after deportation or is never removed from the country, he will be placed on supervised release for 10 years.
“This group brought danger,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said in 2019. “Let me underline that, they brought danger from Mexico to Cleveland in the form of drugs that were labeled as one thing but they were in fact something far more dangerous.”
According to authorities, drugs from this group wound up as far as California and Arizona.
Lozano-Leon’s prison sentencing comes as more than 100,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses between 2020 and 2021. Many of those deaths were due to fentanyl and street pills laced with a strong compound of drugs, like the ones described by Lozano-Leon in the recorded call.
In response to the record breaking overdose numbers, James Rauh, founder of Families Against Fentanyl (FAF) declared last December that, “This is a national emergency. America’s young adults — thousands of unsuspecting Americans — are being poisoned,”
“It is widely known that illicit fentanyl is driving the massive spike in drug-related deaths. A new approach to this catastrophe is needed,” he added.
“Bold action is needed to stop this trend! Almost all illicit fentanyl is made outside the U.S.,” FAF also tweeted. “The U.S. needs the authority to root out the international manufacturers and traffickers of this dangerous chemical BEFORE it reaches our streets.”
Likewise, in the fiscal year 2021, CBP also reported they have seized approximately 11,201 pounds of fentanyl coming over the border, much of this through the southern border with Mexico.